This one is for you:
All the Young Cooks
All the Young Dudes
Remember "Mars Attacks"?
The movie Tim Burton directed almost 20 years ago now?
Remember the martians landing on planet Earth before destroying it but repeating at their landing over and over: We come in peace?
Allow me to use the same formula.
I come in peace Yes: I come in peace But BEWARE: In truth I speak! I'm not bringing you peace. On the contrary I foresee turmoil and unrest, death and despair. I foresee loneliness, suffering and physical pain. I predict a life of big efforts and little means. If you really think there is a job for you in this so called food business, think twice. But if you really want to stick to this, at least don't believe TV stars and glossy coffee table books. Don't believe the thrill that you get when you see a chef whose life and gestures you admire.Chances are you’ll end up in tears alone and unseen by all in your little miserable corner. As anonymous as the main character of this little book whose name is not made public on purpose. It’s better this way: because this little book tells the story of a guy with no name whose story is our own. Let's talk about this book, not a major one, not even a culinary book strictly speaking, but a very important one. It's part of a collection called Raconter la vie, created in France by Pierre Rosanvallon, a historian, sociologist, and member of the prestigious College de France. Had he been born here in Chile and not in France in 1948, had he been working during the dark Pinochet days, or in Italy when Mussolini was running the state, or today in Putin's Russia, he WOULD have found himself in jail for sure.
Because his project, his collection of little yellow books may not be revolutionary, but they are definitely seditious enough.
Raconter la vie means exactly what it means: To tell the life, to tell the story of how we live, how we work in everyday life and in every field of work. So he has asked many writers and journalists, and even ordinary people, to write about themselves and other people. To report how it is to live in France today, as a scientific researcher, a blue-collar worker in a factory, a caretaker looking after the elderly in hospitals, a security guard, a kindergarten teacher or a pawnbroker. The idea is to recount what our days are made of from the inside; our gestures, whether they be with a pen, a scalpel, or a register book, the long hours at the factory, the night of tired sleeplessness....What you get is an instant picture, a multifaceted photograph of real life somewhere in Europe, in France. That's why Rosanvallon has asked Maylis de Kerangal, a brillant novelist, to take care of Chemin de tables. She is no food writer, she knows almost nothing - thank God - of the world you live in, but she is a novelists who likes to delve deep inside the subjects she writes about, gather a huge amount of information, and find the technically appropriate words to describe building sites or the work of the nurses on the bodies of the sick and the dying. That's her kick: to get into other people’s pants. To see how the character works and lives, the way he speaks, the tools he handles, the air he breathes. So now, this Chemin des Tables is a full immersion into someone else’s brain. And backpack. It's the story, part documentary, only slightly fictionalized, of a guy like most of you, a guy like us, a guy called Mauro, who finishes High School and then drops out of University. And since he had always liked to mess around in the family kitchen, he collected a string of poor odd jobs. First in a Parisian bistro, then in a more bourgeois one, and finally at a Michelin-starred Parisian establishment.
She tells the story, your future story, from a little distance: the long hours, the exhaustion, the petty money, the tired bones, the sleepless nights, the foul mouths, the alcohol consumption, the drug addiction, the extra weight, the liver dysfunction, the fucked up relationships, the girlfriends crying before slamming the doors, the 20 years of bad sex and after hours hastily ejaculations.
(And that is just an appetizer, says Jock Zonfrillo)
Over a time-lapse of a few years, history with a big H mutates: the crisis steps in (and food and cuisine always become fashionable during an economic crises). Food became trendy and Mauro opened his own little restaurant for a few years, doing everything by himself before giving it up.
You might recognize yourself in him, in all the mistakes that you are going to make, and the dead end you are going to find yourself in. Of course, who cares if it is almost a roman à clés, where you easily recognize the name of the vegetarian over-priced three Michelin stars restaurant in a rich Parisian neighborhood. When she writes that Mauro now works in Apollo, a wine-oriented spot with an immaculate post-Nordic cuisine, you laugh because everybody knows that she is talking about Sven Chartier's Saturne, but that is not the point.
She is telling a universal story, including the unhappy ending, the boredom that comes after the first kicks, the restaurant sale, the quick money in a molecular restaurant in Bangkok à la mode de yesterday, and then the last pages, which brings us back to the same point where it all began: What to do in your fucked up life?
It's your life, our life that she is writing about.
A common story that goes beyond borders.
A life that is lived, that is happening right now all around the planet.
You are not alone. You are not on your own.
There is plenty of you, an army of you.
You could be the next Indignados, you could protest, you could invoke a better future for you and all yours. You could occupy Wall Street and la Plaza de la Moneda.
You could reinvent yourself at place de la République and spend the night together at Nuit Debout.
But like all of us, you take things too literally.
You don't have time to think, you have a rent to pay, customers to please, and instead of going contracorriente, you inevitably end up following the tide.
What a mess we have made of your/our lives.
The King is naked, the Emperor is stripped bare. How miserable we are.
Look at the sky; look at those beautiful, thick clouds coming by.
It's going to pour down all over us.
Yes, it's going to rain:
The flood is coming: Blood Sweat and Tears (it's gonna rain).
Over and Over.
Roll over the tsunami, surf the wave, glide over all the expectations. You are supposed to fulfill your life.
Don't follow the trends, set the pace of your own trend.
Be yourself, don't trust the others and please don't believe what you see on TV.
You are not gonna save the World.
You are not gonna feed the planet.
You are not gonna make the Berlin wall come down again.
You are just a cook.
You are not gonna save the oceans.
You are not gonna rescue the campesinos and find a new path for a common better tomorrow.
You are not a Messiah, you might die on your cross but at the End of the day you are just a poor Christ who can only try to save his ass.
But hurry up, the sky is already bleeding.
Don't cook here in Santiago the same thing that you could do in Copenhagen, New York, London, Madrid, Lima or Peru.
Unless you sell your soul to the devil and end up burning in Hell for eternity, you are going to end up poor.
So fuck the easy money, fuck the easy way.
Forget your heavy-duty burden; just make your life different.
Make your restaurant the real theatre of operations.
You don't have to please the clients, or make compromises. Think of your restaurant as a place where everything is possible.
Just look around, forget the technology, the imported fermentations.
Think of your restaurant as a recording studio, turn the expectations upside down, use all of your instruments, but the other way around.
Do the contrary of what is supposed to be reasonable.
Go past the tasting menu, the booze pairing, erase from Earth the boring, useless snacks.
Go to the bone, aim at the heart, go for the unexpected, the unrepresented.
Just stop talking about yourself, stop captioning every dish with pointless information like where the veggies come from, where you have been foraging, and the name of the little veal you are serving, and how cute it was before it was slaughtered.
Turn your back on the author’s syndrome; you are not better than me.
I'm not interested in you, I don't give a fuck about you, but I do care about what you might do.
You only live once, make your place worthwhile.
Be zen, cut loose.
Cut yourself from intentions, cut yourself from emotions; emotions are distracting, emotions are frustrating.
Don’t go for self-expression; offer yourself a double dose of self-alteration.
Stop making choices, let the many different choices choose you.
Be impersonal, be as impersonal as possible -We are not interested in what you might think but in what you might do - don't take it personally, if you have to make a move, make sure it is the most contradictory as possible.
Compose your dishes with no preconceived intentions, just let it happen.
Make it happen the way that the composer John Cage made his scores: Let the chance take the lead, listen to the unpredictable, check the ephemeral effect, listen to the chain reaction of every thing, every move that you make.
Bury the false freedom of self-expression; the real expression is self-alteration, when you put yourself in danger, out of the comfort zone, and let yourself ride the tide. Let it go, don't try to control it, accept the situation you have put yourself in.
Try different ways of composing, make a different dish every night for every guest.
Use your waste, recycle all your things, all your thoughts.
You might be alone, you might be clueless, but you have the power.
You can create a new society, you can make your place an alternative, a loving alternative to the outside world.
Let’s enter your restaurant like into a new accomplished utopia that doesn't take anything for granted.
Let's imagine new ways of eating, of behaving, of communicating with each other.
Let's take shelter in your place.
And Jeff Nichols knows that we fucking need to "Take Shelter".
Because the flood is coming, and a restaurant might really be able to reinvent a bit of society.
Don't look for answers, look for questions.
And always question the questions.
Don't be afraid of failure.
Every time you fail, you gain a brand new starting point.
Speak in tongues, use your cooking everyday as a step in a brand new language.
Force yourself to adopt unknown languages.
Be Nabokov, do Like Samuel Beckett who forced himself to switch from English, his mother tongue, to French, and see the effect that it has on his writing in terms of precision and clarity.
Cook like nobody else, like you smashed your brains out.
Cook every day like it's your last day.
Time is almost up if you want to leave a trace.
Don't waste your life as we wasted ours.
If you give up now everything will be lost.
Don't be a dumbass, don't try to be smart.
Put all your certitudes at risk.
Another good restaurant is the last thing that we need.
We need a new place to live in.
We need music for a new society.
But Hurry up.
The flood is coming.
The flood is coming.
It's gonna rain BLOOD SWEAT And TEARS.
Can you hear the thunder thumping?
Can you see the lightening striking?
Can you see the deluge coming?
Can you hear the flood knocking at the door?
Will someone open the door?
Are you gonna open that door?
Please, can someone open that fucking door?
Universidad Catolica de Santiago (Chile)